Study Notes

Key Case | Carlill v Carbollic Smoke Ball Co (1893) | Formation of Contract - Unilateral Offer

A Level, IB, BTEC National
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 26 May 2021

A case example of where an advertisement proposes terms with certainty and sincerity, this may amount to an offer, it is possible to make an offer to the whole world.


Claimant: Mrs Carlill

Defendant: Carbolic Smoke Ball Co

Facts: The Smoke Ball Co placed an advert is a newspaper claiming that use of their product would prevent users from catching the flu. It claimed that £100 would be paid to any person who used the product properly and then caught the flu, stating that money had been paid into the bank for this purpose. The claimant caught the flu having used the product and sought to enforce the offer, the company refused upon the basis that it was just a gimmick and that it was too vague to amount to an offer.

Outcome: Liable

Legal principle: The advertisement constituted an offer. The deposited monies indicated the sincerity of the offer and it was possible to make an offer to the whole world.

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